Geelong cracked Richmond’s code to overwhelm the defending champions in emphatic fashion with Jeremy Cameron outstanding, kicking six goals in a 63-point victory on Friday night.
The extraordinary result confirms Geelong as a genuine contender opening up the race as the Tigers appear wounded and unable to defend their MCG fortress as they once did.
The Cats were the team which brought the pressure after half-time to kick eight goals in the third quarter as they dismantled a listless Richmond who made uncharacteristic errors and missed tackles.
Pointing to victory: Geelong’s Jeremy Cameron.Credit:Getty Images
It was their skipper Joel Selwood who set the tone after the long break with his fierce attack on the ball similar to what injured Tigers’ skipper Trent Cotchin had provided for Richmond a week earlier against the Western Bulldogs.
His efforts seemed to inspire his fellow midfielders who outmuscled Richmond at the contest, wanting the ball more than the Tigers who weren’t as tough as they normally are when the ball was to be won.
The midfielders’ work helped Geelong’s forwards cash in, with the Cats kicking and decision making improving after quarter-time as they looked for targets at the 50-metre arc rather than bombing the ball deep or over-possessing with handball. Geelong ended with 20 marks inside 50 to Richmond’s six.
Geelong’s kicking was first class as they found teammates wherever they stood and moved the ball with ruthless efficiency with the Tigers poorer than anyone could have imagined given how hard they have been to play against in recent years.
The Cats’ forwards benefited with Cameron kicking half a dozen goals and Gary Rohan five goals as they stormed back from a nine-point deficit at half-time to lead by 35 points at three quarter-time with the result clear. Tom Hawkins’ experience was on show too as he used the ball unselfishly as well as chipping in with four goals.
Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch hardly had a look at the ball as Richmond’ midfield was demolished and when the ball did come their way they were beaten in one-on-one battles.
The only shining light forward of centre for Richmond came in the first quarter when Shai Bolton took one of the best marks seen at the MCG, sitting on Blicavs shoulder in the goal square to mark on his chest.
It was a thrilling moment as Bolton did a scissor-kick in mid-air as he levitated momentarily above Blicavs and clutched the ball in a mark reminiscent to Shaun Smith’s mark of the century taken in 1995.
Shai Bolton flies high.Credit:Getty Images
He kicked three goals and was the Tigers’ best player with Dustin Martin unusually quiet after half-time.
Geelong delivered on their promise to try some different ideas with Esava Ratugolea replacing Rhys Stanley in the ruck, Mark Blicavs playing on the wing, roaming around the ground as an old fashioned follower while Jack Henry stood Riewoldt.
Stewart, who was his ever reliable self, took responsibility for Tigers star Martin when he went forward. Lachie Henderson played on Lynch and outpointed him at every turn with his career revival one of the untold stories in the past two seasons.
The moves worked, as Geelong stretched the ground and were able to find marking targets in all areas of the MCG.
Although Geelong doubled Richmond’s score, the Tigers had threatened earlier in the game often marching the ball down the ground in the first half finding Jake Aarts who kicked Richmond’s three goals for the quarter.
The downside for Geelong were injuries to Sam Simpson and Luke Dahlhaus while the Tigers will be concerned about champion midfielder Shane Edwards who limped from the ground with a jarred knee.
Best: Geelong: Cameron, Henderson, Rohan, Hawkins, Selwood, Guthrie, Duncan, Stewart. Richmond: Bolton, Aarts, Short
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